This same Woolworth store became the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, celebrating its opening February 1, 2010. Inspiring lives of many notable African Americans from all walks of life are honored for their exceptional abilities and being excellent role models for future generations - during a time in American history when human equality was not recognized among the Blacks, especially in the South. As I pondered the magnitude of risk and bravery these four A&T freshmen exhibited in order to gain self-respect and the civil freedom they deserved as human beings, I was filled with admiration for their willingness to take a stand (by taking a seat), in a peaceful demonstration to make themselves heard and improve their lives. They proved that a few can accomplish much to influence others and thereby change history. Changing course creates a passage from one direction to another --- Liberation is a passage from bondage to freedom. May we all change course when necessary, so we too may experience greater personal liberty and freedom.
|"Liberation" (21" X 22")|
All of the photos were taken by myself except the bottom corner photos and the upper right corner. Images were ink jet printed on silk habotai, backed with Misty Fuse and adhered to a cotton black and white plaid fabric. A monochromatic black/white color theme was chosen to depict segregation of Blacks and Whites. The mood is heavy, dark and oppressive which instills the need for 'a new and brighter day' all the more urgent. I kept the overall construction very loose and frayed to enhance the 'unraveling' of the past as it leads to a 'less constricted' way of life. A section of a vintage felted wool blanket was used for the batting and as part of the top construction. Black cheesecloth is free form machine quilted on top of the blanket to form a border. Blanket edges were raveled.
Loosely torn strips of striped black and white cotton fabric represents not only pathways or footsteps from one place to another, but the links of a chain or bars on a jail cell or fencing that forbid passage of Blacks into White areas. The feeling of being less than, in bondage, disrespected and ultimately not belonging... opposites of freedom, equality and liberation are reinforced throughout the piece. Originally I had sewn one sheet of black tulle over all the photos and loose threads but after quilting I decided to cut away the net for greater contrast and less confined threads.
Continuing with the unconventional mindset - that which goes against the grain, doesn't do what is expected and is more free form and liberated... my backing of striped fabric (more of the fenced off feeling) is smaller than, and overcome by the frayed edges of the quilt top, and yet another way to show the themes movement has overcome the constraints of the times.
The detailed photo above shows the bronze marker that sits on a pedestal outside the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, honoring the four A&T freshmen who launched the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins. (More Greensboro sit-ins info on this website)
I've thought extensively about personal freedom, self-respect and being treated with equality as it pertains to myself and others. So much misery could be avoided if we all lived by the Golden Rule and treated one another as we would ourselves want to be treated. Making that daily decision is a passage unto itself, to live a better life for all humanity. I'm glad I did this project. It gave me much to think about.